I can't speak to being a distance student, but I graduate from Vanderbilt's ANP/GNP program in a month and two days (but who is counting?!). I initially had a hard time rationalizing the cost as my son was 7 mos old when I started, and my husband is in a CRNA program here in the Nashville area. I managed to work PRN at my current job, but I have no idea how anyone worked more than part-time (but many did, and props to them!). I will say that I don't think distance students have any disadvantage academically; if you're local you have the option of attending weekly classes but don't have to as they're available live-streamed and archived. Some of my friends in my program are distance students and travel from IN, CT, AL; many people in my class met during the first block and ended up splitting room costs. There is also a place on campus that is somewhat like a dorm where you can stay for blocks if there are available rooms, and it is much cheaper.
I don't feel like my distance friends were at any disadvantage having to find their own preceptors; in fact, sometimes I think that was preferable (as a local student, you may be assigned to a clinical site as far as 2 hrs one-way for a rotation). Vanderbilt is an excellent program, and you can definitely tell that they've been doing it a long time; compared to my husband's CRNA program, it is very structured, the instructors are (for the most part) very personable, and they are helpful and understanding. I am so happy that I decided to do Vanderbilt's program, and I will also say this: it looks wonderful on your CV!
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail (erintb at gmail.com!